Mark Brann, European Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and Taeko Duckworth, Vice-President of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) UK explained the original vision and types of activities of their organisations both globally and within Europe.
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Taeko Duckworth, after celebrating the 20th anniversary since the organisation’s launch by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon in 1992, reiterated and recalled the success of WFWP from the beginning. WFWP is an alliance of women working together to take the initiative to empower women internationally, in order to eradicate injustice to women; to create a peaceful and harmonious society where the idea of working together as a community, is key to making society a better place for everyone to live in. Women have for many centuries been prevented from certain aspects of society and it is this that WFWP try to tackle. Taeko commented that the process of educating and empowering women is vital for them to have a greater influence in decision making in society.
Taeko continued by describing some of the recent work of WFWP. WFWP Edinburgh organised a successful event on March 17th commemorating International Women’s Day which saw as many as 80 women and children gather from different walks of life under one roof to celebrate. Following this WFWP established a network of women from various backgrounds in Birmingham. She described a moving and touching case where as many as 350 women including refugees, Sunni and Shia formed two lines and walked hand in hand to cross the bridge of peace. This symbolised the bond and common relationship between women despite religion, race or ethnicity and reaffirmed the success of WFWP to bring such a group together. Lastly she commented on the work WFWP are carrying out in London. They held a panel session in the European Leadership Conference (ELC) in both December 2011 and most recently on June 15th, where guest panelists were able to voice their passion on the issues of gender equality and to praise how far women have come since the days when it was unheard of that women would be on a political platform.
Mark Brann the Secretary General of Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Europe gave an encouraging speech on the role and purpose of UPF as well as discussing the importance of working through conflict; trying to get synergies between both sides of the groups in conflict to come to a like minded decision.
UPF is a platform made up of a group of individuals and organisations working towards creating global citizenship. Through the idea of interfaith, attracting people from different walks of life, UPF are able to build and create friendly and mutual relationships to generate peace and prevent hostilities between people. The concept of global citizenship is dependent on five basic principles that Mark firstly explained: living for the sake of others and in a spiritual and moral nature under one human family; that the family is the school of love and peace, and therefore it is through this that walls between people are overcome, as peace is a concept that comes through the cooperation of people beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and nationality. Although the physical is important, the spiritual is equally essential for one to have an overall understanding and awareness of the world and surroundings at hand and beyond. It is through spirituality that the qualities of a good citizen blossoms as one becomes more in tune to humanity and nature. The principle of family and nurture are key values that UPF follow, regardless of the differences in sex, ethnicity or nationality we are all brothers and sisters.
Mark continued speaking on the work UPF carried out, both regionally and globally securing peace initiatives in the Middle East, South Asia: Nepal, Balkans: Kosovo and Northeast Asia: North and South Korea. He stated it was important to find people from either side of the conflict who are able to perceive certain issues. Those who can identify and observe the wrong on the other side as well as their own; at the same time notice the value and good the other has done and offered as well as the positive they have done. He states that majority of the time it is a long-term process that brings results, issues do not get resolved within a short period of time.
Mark stated it was important for a country to build on the inside. In a case where there are Christians, Jews and Muslims living in one country, it is vital to have representatives from each community who have the qualities of working together to notice and embrace the values of the other, as well as their own. This way all communities have a voice heard and have clout in society.
Lastly staying with this idea of working together as a community Mark states that there are many paths to the notion of togetherness, one being sports. He states that through service, culture, sports etc communities can swiftly create friendly relations.